Popcorn Sale Teaches Valuable Lessons About Sales and Achievement

Thanks for not buying popcorn from my son


Guest commentary by Trey Tompkins, Cub Scout Parent. 
Guest commentary by Trey Tompkins, Cub Scout Parent.

If you declined my son’s offer to buy popcorn from his Cub Scout Pack yesterday, I owe you one. I’m serious.

I spent yesterday afternoon outside the exit of a local home improvement store with my six year old son and two other father / son pairings from his Cub Scout Pack. They were performing the seasonal ritual of selling popcorn to help raise money for their Pack’s activities.

Through their efforts, they raised about $200 in about two hours. That seems to be pretty good production for three elementary school kids.

In watching my son and his friends “work”, I was struck most by two different but ultimately related things.

First, many individuals who they talked to seemed so uncomfortable in saying “no”. Everyone was very polite and many offered reasons for not handing over money to the kids. However, it was obvious that saying “no” made some of them uncomfortable.

popcorncartLooking back on it, they needn’t have felt any remorse or guilt at all. Those folks were doing my son and his friends a great service in teaching them valuable lessons about sales and achievement.

In sales, no matter how good your cause is (or no matter how cute you are in your little scout uniform) people don’t owe you anything. They have to have a reason to want your product or “service”. Most people who donated or bought popcorn told the kids that they wanted to support the scouts because they themselves or their children had been scouts. My guess is that they knew the good works that scouting does for kids and it made them feel good to make a small investment in that.

Also, even if someone values your product service, they might not be in a position to buy at that moment. Maybe they aren’t carrying cash or they already bought from a kid in their neighborhood. Which leads to my second “aha” observation. Those kids heard a lot of “no” responses and yet they just kept on asking people exiting the store if they would like to support their Pack. They were so excited when someone eventually said yes.

Photo by Flickr user, John Martin.
Photo by Flickr user, John Martin.

After the Popcorn Sale, I took my son out for a quick dinner at a local restaurant. Over dinner, he told me that selling is hard work because you have to let so many people tell you “no” before you ever get someone to tell you “yes”.

If you politely refusing to buy popcorn from him yesterday helped teach him this lesson at age 6, I owe you a debt of gratitude.

Thanks again!


Avatar photo

Newsroom Blog

This blog is managed and written by staff of the Communications Department of the Boy Scouts of America.